COUNCILS are to be clobbered by an increased Carbon Tax next month – but Hampshire says it has been working on a plan to pay less.

Since 2012 councils have had to pay £12 for every metric ton of carbon they emit, including heating and lighting public buildings.

But next month the tax rises to £16 and will include street lighting for the first time.

Were it not for the council’s plan to replace 150,000 street lights across Hampshire, reducing their energy costs and cutting carbon emissions, the county council would be liable for a further estimated £140,000 per year in carbon tax.

The street lighting replacement is a significant contributor to the council’s target to reduce its carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2015.

Executive member for income and capital receipts, Councillor Mel Kendal, also r e c e n t l y endorsed a £1.4m investment into an energy performance programme that will save taxpayers a further £200,000 a year by making 25 of the council’s top energy-consuming buildings more efficient.

It is expected to save in the region of £5m in energy bills over the next 25 years.

Cllr Kendal said: “We are on track to achieve our 20 per cent carbon reduction target by 2015.

“This is part of our energy strategy that aims to help Hampshire reduce the risks of future energy security and affordability, and contribute to a sustainable low-carbon economy throughout Hampshire – all of which will save the taxpayer money.

“The positive steps we have already taken to cut our energy use will help us to lower our energy bills in future, and plough those savings back into providing local services to the people of Hampshire.”